The Last Journey
Article #11 “Always Working”
In 1982, my youngest and
final child was born. Her name is
Moriah. She is the 4th of
four. The baby. The quiet one, or at least it appeared that
way. She was and is, the most studious
when it comes to education. She also
does things on her own terms and in her own timing. She chooses the hardest things to do. She is 28-years-old and is a nurse. I am extremely pleased with her choice of
profession. It is a tough job but she is
very good at it. All day long I thought
of her as I spent a few hours at the hospital here at
For some background, I must
inform the readers first, about a little history of how I got to know the Army
side of the medical profession. In 2004,
I was stationed at Balad Air Base in
Today, after so long a time
of being away from the war zone, I was “hooked up” with an
interview with the folks at the hospital.
I had requested such a time, but initially was told it would be too hard
to coordinate and would take too long.
However, once the folks at the hospital heard I wanted to come and visit
with them, it was a done deal. As in the
past, they opened the door with arms
wide open. This is an incredible
group of people here at
I was introduced to Lt. Col.
Kolb who is the main man at the hospital.
He is the hospital commander. In
short, he owns the hospital for the duration of his time deployed here. He is a reservist and deployed out of
During his briefing I asked some questions about what all they’ve been addressing since taking over around June 3 of this year, a mere two months ago. Basically, they’ve dealt with everything already, and then some. The facility has pretty much all it needs to get things done. I was taken to the operating room where he showed me that two operations can be going on at the very same time in the same location. That has already occurred. They are constantly preparing for all kinds of situations and in the middle of that they continue to mentor some Afghan medical personell as well. It is a 24/7, 7-days a week, job, which gets done, and done well.
I asked about the amount of experience a physician or nurse or PA, gets on one deployment compared to their practice at home. No doubt, someone here can obtain a wealth of experience in their respective field in very short order. It’s not uncommon to get 5-years worth of experience in one deployment. And that goes for every aspect of the entire hospital, from docs, to nurses, to x-ray techs, to medical record keeping, the entire gambit. I spoke with several of the younger folks who are nurses and techs after the briefing and each and everyone of them told me that what they are learning here so fast, is absolutely remarkable. All of them are actually quite thankful to be getting so much hands on job related experience that almost all of them will remain in their career field until retirement time comes around. I recorded their conversation with me on audio as well and encourage the readers to listen to it.
One of the rooms I visited
during the tour of the hospital contained a ward where a young Afghan girl was
being treated. She was seven years
old. She had been injured and the
governor of Khost province specifically requested if the hospital here at
I was later taken to a room
where some soldiers recovering were awaiting to return to their units. I asked them how it was here and all three of
them spoke highly of the treatment and service as all three of them took turns
playing on one of those Wi video games that had a bowling game going on. Next I visited a room where a highly
important piece of equiptment was kept.
It is a CT scanner and gets plenty of use. I asked the Lt. Col what are some of his
major obstacles that he has to deal with in the realm of supply. He fast responded that he has been following
up on what the unit before him had been trying to obtain since last March. That is a back up battery for the
Towards the end of my visit I was introduced to another Lt. Col who is a doctor. His name is Lt. Col. Cooper. I shook his hand and then began speaking with him. During the conversation we each traded stories about time spent in Balad. Then we began narrowing down to which months and year. Soon, we kept looking at each other, recognized familiar names and sure enough he remembered immediately who I was and that I had produced lots of archivial digital photographs for the 31st CSH in 2004. It was absolutely a great experience to speak with this person who was a major part of how I learned what goes on in the Army medical field during war time. It just was amazing to run into him.
After this, the tour of the
hospital was pretty much complete. There
was much, much more that was shown to me, but it too is just too lengthy to put
down into words on this forum. But, it
was a great briefing and excellent tour.
All along I was thinking about my time in Balad in 2004-2006. Nearly every day I had something to do with
the CSH in those days. Seeing this unit
At the end of the day today,
I came back to take a photo of the front entrance. Just at that same time, many of the medical
folks were standing by ready to receive a patient, a local female Afghan. They were ready and I happened to be there to
take that photo. All of them recognized
me and prior to the patient arriving we all spoke to one another about that
mornings interview. It’s the way
it was back in ’04. They knew me
and they accepted me. I took my photos
from a bit of a distance, because I wanted to get the sign that said “
In the end, it was a good day mostly because I got to spend time with people that are here always working to save lives. I spent some time interviewing five folks at the end and it is available on audio for those that want to hear it. It is well worth the time to listen to it. I was shocked when my daughter Moriah told me she was going to become a nurse and have a career in the medical field. I am glad she choose such an honorable profession.